Volcano puts visitor lives on hold – The Daily Telegraph


Memorial at the site of the 2002 Bali bombing (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — As seismic activity increases around the rumbling Mount Agung volcano in the Indonesian tourist magnet island Bali, British people on the island are coming to terms with the uncertainty of not knowing if the volcano will go off and how severe any eruption might be.

“Getting a heavy fall of ash is probably my biggest concern. But I guess that will all depend on winds and the size of the eruption,” said Graham Hindle, a gas industry worker who divides his time between his job in the western Australian desert and his family in Bali, an island a little over a quarter the size of Wales.

According to officials the volcano could erupt any time, while Indonesian air transport and airlines are preparing to divert flights bound for Bali to ten other airports in the country.

Liverpool-born Jackie Ames runs The Plumbers Arms, an English pub described by some as “the best place for a Sunday roast in Bali.”

“Everyone’s talking about it,” she said, speaking by telephone, and referring to the seemingly-imminent eruption. “People asking each other what do you think, what will happen, will it be big, which way will the wind blow.”

Seismic activity remains high around the volcano, with regular tremors felt around Bali, while almost 100,000 people have  fled their homes close to the mountain.

Hindle and Ames said that getting donations to the Balinese evacuees, some now staying in rudimentary camps, is a priority for many Bali-based Brits. Both are based close to Seminyak and Kuta respectively, popular among the millions of young partygoers who visit Bali each year. That hedonistic stretch is about an hour and quarter drive from the danger zone.

Agung is one of over a hundred active volcanoes across the vast 17,000 island Indonesian archipelago. It last erupted in 1963, killing over a thousand people. Nobody can say for sure whether a repeat is on the cards, or whether the volcano will erupt at all – but the indications are that an eruption is more likely than not.

“Volcanic eruptions are dependent on gas and pressure, essentially trying to measure something under the surface which we cannot see,” said Dr. Janine Krippner, a New Zealander volcanologist based in the U.S.,

But at the very least, Dr Kripper cautioned, “anyone in Bali should be preparing for ashfall.”

Holiday-makers are struggling with sometimes conflicting and confusing information online. Mount Sinabung, a volcano on the island of Sumatra, was seen belching smoke on Wednesday, prompting misunderstandings on social media that Agung was about blow.

“We’ve been advised to get masks [in case of ash],” said Kerrie Gouyet, a nurse from Jersey on a three week holiday in Bali. She’s been poring over social media and news sites to keep up with volcano updates.  “But other than that, we haven’t really been told what to do,” she said.

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